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NORTH KOREA: WHOLE GENERATION OF CHILDREN AFFECTED BY NORTH KOREAN FAMINE.


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A whole generation of children in North Korea has been affected to varying degrees by famine, threatening the long-term future of the whole country.
Dozens of school children, wearing their best clothes, pose for photographs under a giant statue of founding president Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang, the capital of famine-struck North Korea.
Everything seems to be normal, but if you take a closer look, you will notice that most of these children are smaller than average and show signs of malnutrition.
For decades, communist North Korea preached self-reliance and developed its own brand of communism.
But since 1995, a combination of natural disasters and chronic economic difficulties have wreaked havoc on the country.
These days, North Korea relies heavily on international handouts to feed its estimated 22 million people.Children are among those hardest hit by famine.
David Morton, United Nations Humanitarian coordinator in North Korea, said: "The impact on the people is very serious, because you have children suffering from deprivation of food at a very early age, and this can affect, this will affect their future physical and mental development, and this will affect the long-term development of the country." Industrial cities in the northeast, sustaining large populations on little arable land, are particularly hard hit by the crisis.
A total of 118 children huddle inside a baby home in the coastal city of Hamhung.The building is surrounded on all three sides by hills covered in graves.
Many of the toddlers, ranging in age from six months to four years, are orphans.Others were put in care by parents who could not care for their offspring.
At the Hamhung baby home, 32 out of the 118 toddlers suffer from various degrees of malnutrition.Many of them were malnourished on admission, the weak children of mothers suffering from malnutrition themselves.
These children tend to suffer from diarrhoea, respiratory problems, skin diseases, and an impaired immune system making them prone to all sorts of potentially life-threatening diseases.
United Nations officials say the state of children in nurseries, kindergartens and other social care centres receiving international aid has improved since last year.
A recent nutritional survey by aid agencies showed acute malnutrition in about 16 percent of North Korean children between the age of six months and seven years.
Chronic malnutrition or stunting affected 63 percent of all children surveyed, reflecting long-term food shortages.
This puts North Korea among the 10 countries with the highest malnutrition rates in the world.
Famine has affected all sectors of society to various degrees and many people are relying on "alternative food" during the lean months of May and June, searching for grass and roots in mountains or picking seaweed.
The United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP) launched last month an emergency appeal for 584,000 million tonnes of food, at a total cost of 260 million, to assist 8.04 million people.
The United States announced 400,000 tonnes of extra food aid for North Korea on Monday (May 17), covering a substantial portion of the country's food requirement.
This spring, WFP is targetting some of the most vulnerable groups, including school children, pregnant and nursing mothers and the elderly living in the harder hit northern and north-eastern parts of the country.
Pupils in this primary school in Chongjin have seen their food ration increased from 250 to 450 grammes (8.8 to 15.8 oz) of wheat per person per day in May, providing them with 75 percent of their daily energy requirement.
However, most of them survive on a wheat-based diet lacking in oil, sugar, and other foods needed to help patients recover from malnutrition.
Some of the healthier children played basketball in the schoolyard, one of North Korea's favourite sports.
"When I grow up, I want to be a soldier and defend my country," said Kim Sung-il, age 11, looking barely older than eight.
Other children sat in spartan classrooms, under portraits of founding president Kim Il-sung and current leader Kim Jong-il.
Many of them looked pale, a telltale sign of anemia, and appeared to have problems concentrating on their Korean language class.
Malnutrition at crucial stages of growth can impair physial and mental development, threatening the long-term development of a whole generation of children.
Aid agencies say most children in North Korea are in a precarious position, and any illness or food shortage can easily push them into the malnourished category.
Over 20 children age six to 18 months sat quietly on the floor of the Sunam nursery in Chongjin, many of them locked up in their own little world.
"(The) first time you see these children, openly they are weak, and most of them are underweight", said Doctor Hoang Thi Van, a Vietnamese World Food Programme emergency officer in Chongjin.
"At the age of 15 months old, they still can't walk or stand up by themselves; because they are not standing up, it's difficult go give figure about their stature, but I can estimate that about 50 percent of them are stunted," she added.
Little is known about actual conditions in secretive North Korea, because the government does not publish statistics and severely restricts travel and access inside the country.
WFP considers North Korea to be in the grip of a "famine in slow motion," with increasingly exhausted people trying to cope year after year.
Nobody knows for sure how many people have died in the famine.Government figures put the number of deaths at 220,000, while South Korean and U.S.sources estimate as many as two or three million people may have died.
What is clear is that a whole generation of North Koreans have been affected by the famine, ranging from new-born babies to the elderly.
Some of the worst of the famine may be over, but it will be a long road to recovery.


Reference 5495/99
Tape 5536
Issue
Can
Source REUTERS
Restrictions Restrictions on certain uses may apply, and may vary from those listed.
NONE
Time code 00.39.26 - 00.44.56
Date original RECENT
Duration 5.30
Technical
Subset Reuters Television
Location PYONGYANG, SONGRIM, CHONGJIN, HAMHUNG, NORTH KOREA
Sound NATURAL WITH ENGLISH AND KOREAN SPEECH
Colourbw COLOUR
Barcode
Master
Dub
Vhs

PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA (RECENT) (RTV - ACCESS ALL)
1. GV/MCU: SCHOOLCHILDREN LINING UP ON STAIRS FOR GROUP PHOTO AT GIANT STATUE OF LATE NORTH KOREAN LEADER "ETERNAL PRESIDENT KIM IL-SUNG" ON LONGEVITY HILL IN PYONGYANG, MUSIC PLAYING IN BACKGROUND (2 SHOTS) 0.13
2. MCU: BADGE OF NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM IL-SUNG ON GIRL'S SHIRT 0.20
3. SCU: SCHOOL TEACHER TAKING GROUP PHOTO 0.23
4. GV: REVOLUTIONARY SCULPTURES 0.29
5. MCU: CLOSE-UP OF REVOLUTIONARY STATUE, SYMBOLIZING UNITY OF WORKERS, FARMERS AND INTELLECTUALS 0.34
SONGRIM, NORTH HWANGHAE PROVINCE, NORTH KOREA (RECENT) (RTV - ACCESS ALL)
6. LV: VAST EXPANSE OF BARREN FIELDS 0.39
7. LV: FARMERS TILLING FIELD, THOUSANDS OF WORKERS REPAIRING DIKE DAMAGED BY FLOODS IN BACKGROUND 0.46
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA (RECENT) (RTV - ACCESS ALL)
8. MV/CU: DAVID MORTON, UNITED NATIONS HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR, SITTING AT HIS DESK, TAKING NOTES (2 SHOTS) 0.56
9. CU: (SOUNDBITE) (English) DAVID MORTON, UNITED NATIONS HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR: "The impact on the people is very serious, because you have children suffering from deprivation of food at a very early age, and this can affect, this will affect their future physical and mental development, and this will affect the long-term development of the country." 1.23
HAMHUNG, SOUTH HAMGYONG PROVINCE, NORTH KOREA (RECENT) (RTV - ACCESS ALL)
10. GV: EXTERIOR OF BABY HOME SUPPORTING ORPHANS AND CHILDREN ABANDONED BY FAMILIES UNABLE TO SUPPORT THEM 1.28
11. LV: HILLSIDE BEHIND BABY HOME COVERED WITH RECENT GRAVES 1.36
12. SV: NURSE TRYING TO COMFORT BABY 1.41
13. CU: BABY 1.48
14. MCU: MALNOURISHED BABY SITTING ON FLOOR 1.52
15. GV/CU: DOZENS OF YOUNG BOYS AND GIRLS SITTING IN ROOM, SLOWLY EATING PIECES OF BREAD (2 SHOTS) 2.08
16. GV: CRANES UNLOADING WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME WHEAT FROM UNITED STATES VESSEL "VOYAGER" AT HUNGNAM PORT 2.16
17. GV: CRANE UNLOADING WHEAT FROM BARGE INTO CRATE 2.23
18. MV: CLOSE-UP OF WHEAT FALLING INTO CRATE 2.29
CHONGJIN, NORTH HAMGYONG PROVINCE, NORTH KOREA (RECENT) (RTV - ACCESS ALL)
19. GV/PAN: CHILDREN PLAYING BASKETBALL IN SCHOOLYARD 2.45
20. MCU: BOY CHEERING BASKETBALL PLAYERS 2.51
21. GV: CHILDREN STANDING AFTER BASKETBALL GAME 2.59
22. CU: (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) KIM SUNG-IL, 11, PUPIL AT CHONGJIN PRIMARY SCHOOL, SAYING: "When I grow up, I want to be a soldier and defend my country" 3.10
23. SV: CHILDREN ATTENDING KOREAN LITERATURE CLASS 3.19
24. MCU: TWO BOYS READING FROM SAME OLD BOOK 3.28
25. GV/CU: PORTRAIT OF KOREAN LEADER KIM IL SUNG (LEFT) AND HIS SON KIM JONG IL (RIGHT) INSIDE CLASSROOM (2 SHOTS) 3.40
27. GV: SILENT LITTLE GIRL SQUATTING ON FLOOR OF NURSERY 3.47
28. CU: CLOSE-UP OF FACE OF LITTLE GIRL 3.53
29. CU: (SOUNDBITE) (English) DOCTOR HOANG THI VAN, EMERGENCY OFFICER, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME, SAYING: "First time you see these children is, openly they are weak, and most of them are underweight; at the age of 15 months old, they still can't walk or stand up by themselves; because they are not standing up, it's difficult to give a figure about their stature, but I can estimate that about 50 percent of them are stunted." 4.23
30. MV: NURSE COMFORTING GROUP OF CHILDREN 4.30
31. GV/MV: CHILDREN PLAYING IN SCHOOLYARD, RIDING SWING SHAPED LIKE MIG AIRPLANES 4.49
32. GV: SEVEN CHILDREN SITTING IN SWING 4.55
33. CU: CLOSE-UP OF CHILDREN'S FACES 5.03
34. GV: NURSERY ATTTENDANT PLAYING WITH CHILDREN 5.10
35. CU: MALNOURISHED BOYS SITTING IN SEASAW 5.21
36. MCU: CLOSE-UP OF MALNOURISHED BOY'S "OLD MAN" FACE 5.30

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